Meeting the Challenges We Face
As we wrap up another week of this “new normal” we are living in, we have some positive news. The measures we have taken here in New Hampshire to slow the spread of COVID-19 and bend the curve are working – we are one of only three states with declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases, and fewer than 25 coronavirus patients remain in the hospital. While this is great news for our state, we must stay vigilant – we have seen significant spikes in COVID-19 cases in states across our nation, and it’s crucial that we continue our efforts to prevent the spread of this virus. Physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing a mask in public are all very effective, simple ways to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe and healthy.
Addressing the Needs of Tribal Communities
On Wednesday, I joined my Energy and Commerce Committee colleagues for a hearing on addressing the urgent needs of our tribal communities. High rates of sexual and domestic violence and an alarming trend of missing and murdered Native women continue to hurt tribal communities nationwide. As the co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence and a survivor myself, this is deeply personal to me. In order to address this crisis, Congress must work to mitigate inequities and meet the challenges stemming from inadequate access to health care, telecommunications, energy, and water for tribal communities. I’ll continue to support legislation to help survivors heal and move forward as well as prevent crimes of sexual violence in tribal communities and I look forward to working with my committee colleagues to identify solutions and prevent sexual violence in Indian Country. You can watch the hearing here.
Moving Forward on Passenger Rail
I joined Congressman Chris Pappas in hosting a virtual roundtable on Wednesday with Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, and NH Department of Transportation (NH DOT) Commissioner Victoria Sheehan on rail expansion in New Hampshire.
Commuter rail would be a gamechanger in the Granite State, helping to spur economic competitiveness by preventing our residents from enduring long commutes in traffic and making it easier for talented individuals in the greater region to work for employers based in New Hampshire. We must act boldly to provide relief to our commuters and improve public transportation. I’m proud the House passed my ambitious legislation to invest in our transportation infrastructure, and I look forward to sharing the insights I heard in this discussion with my colleagues as we continue working to expand commuter rail and improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure.
Expanding Access to Quality, Affordable Care
This week’s disappointing Supreme Court decision upholding the Trump Administration rule that weakens access to contraceptive coverage sets back critical progress we have made to expand access to basic, affordable health care. The Affordable Care Act ensured that contraception is fully covered by health insurance plans – to allow employers to opt-out of covering this crucial component of preventive health care is unconscionable. I will continue working to strengthen the ACA and expand access to quality, affordable care for all Americans.
Virtual Town Hall on Vaccine Access
On Thursday, I joined the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition to discuss my legislation, the Protecting Seniors Through Immunization Act. This bipartisan legislation would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for vaccines covered under Medicare Part D, making vaccinations more affordable for seniors. I also heard from innovators on COVID-19 vaccine development, and how we can best support public health, health care providers, and pharmacists on the ground to ensure equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available.
Reducing Substance Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Yesterday, I joined Representatives Harley Rouda and Ted Budd to introduce the bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many aspects of our daily lives to a halt, the substance misuse epidemic continues to affect Granite Staters and Americans across the country. The public health and economic crisis caused by this virus has put many at heightened risk of substance misuse. This legislation will help ensure critical drug-free programs in our communities have the funding and resources they need to prevent substance misuse and help those who are struggling to recover and reclaim their lives. I’m pleased to join my colleagues to introduce this much-needed bipartisan legislation, and I will continue working toward solutions to address the substance misuse epidemic.
Keeping Detention Facilities Safe
This week, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Congressman Chris Pappas and I called on Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to answer questions about the spread of COVID-19 at immigration detention facilities, including one in New Hampshire. In our state, the Strafford County Department of Corrections has a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold immigrant detainees. While the delegation appreciates the transparency of Strafford County and the measures it has taken to minimize the spread of the virus, individuals at the New Hampshire detention facility have tested positive for COVID-19, and we are concerned about the continued infection risk faced by detainees and staff.
Tune in for CloseUp on WMUR Sunday at 10 AM
Rep. Kuster on CloseUp in April.
Tune into WMUR on Sunday at 10 AM for my discussion with Adam Sexton about COVID-19 relief funds, the HEROES Act, progress on the development of a coronavirus vaccine, and more.
News You Can Use
I joined the delegation in announcing this week that the Community College System of New Hampshire will receive $3.45 million through the U.S. Department of Labor to support high school apprenticeship programs. This funding will help improve and expand opportunities in high demand fields like addiction treatment and mental health care, and bolster opportunities for minority and disadvantaged workers in the Granite State.
I was recently contacted by Susanna and James Newsom, constituents from Hopkinton, who were having trouble getting passports renewed in a timely manner from the U.S. Department of State. My staff worked with the Department of State and helped resolve the Newsoms’ issue. If my office may be of assistance with a problem you are experiencing, please reach out to my staff at 603-226-1002 so we can learn how we may help.
If you are a small business owner, you can now apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through August 8th. For more information, click here. If you are self-employed, you can apply for relief funding from the New Hampshire Self Employed Livelihood Fund through July 17th. For more information, click here.
As we continue our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent a spike in cases here in New Hampshire, many of us may be wondering how we can balance our daily routines and appropriately take measures to stay healthy. This Washington Post article provides insight into what our nation’s top public health experts - including Dr. Anthony Fauci - are doing to stay safe as they go about their lives.
While the moratorium on evictions in New Hampshire has ended, the state’s Housing Relief Program can help if you are behind or struggling to afford rent/utilities or are in danger of losing your housing due to COVID-19. Call 211, visit www.capnh.org or visit one of the five regional CAP agencies around the state to learn more.
It is important to continue wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance from others at public gatherings. Our state has done a good job of keeping this virus under control, but we are not out of the woods yet and we must continue our efforts to keep each other safe. Wearing a cloth mask when you are in public is a simple, highly effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 tests are now available to all Granite Staters, and all New Hampshire residents are encouraged to get a test. To sign up for a COVID-19 test, click here.
As always, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services are the best resources to turn to during the COVID-19 public health emergency. If you are sick, stay home and call your health care provider. If you live in NH and have questions about coronavirus, dial 211 or visit CDC.gov for more information.
Have a wonderful weekend!